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Media Strategy Director, Communications (NYC)

Media Strategy Director, Communications


At the Vera Institute of Justice, our vision is a society that respects the dignity of every person and safeguards justice for all. At a propitious moment, we are standing up and driving change on a variety of fronts — ending cash bail, ending mass incarceration, vastly improving life behind bars, ensuring that immigrants get due process, and centering all this work in racial equity. Convincing people to change the way they think and act in order to serve justice is in our DNA. One of the ways we change hearts and minds is through strategic communications campaigns. We have a robust and growing communications team that advocates for our vision with colleagues as well as stakeholder and public audiences. Are you interested in helping lead a super-smart and productive team using best-in-class communications strategies and tactics to drive change?


If so, read on.


Long known for our research and technical assistance, communications is now one of the core pillars of Vera’s work. We are expanding our communications team and continuing to devote unrestricted dollars to our work over the next five years. Importantly, we embed communications in our program and project work from the start. Our efforts have paid off with an award-winning website, significant media attention, dramatic growth in social media followers, and new partnerships — elements needed to drive change in the criminal legal system. If you want to learn more about life at Vera click here.


But more can be done, and the need is urgent. We need to leverage increasing calls for systemic change, using communications to connect our research and program work to external audiences. We are seeking a Media Strategy Director to lead that charge, to join our

communications leadership team, grow and supervise a media team, and partner with internal and external stakeholders.


The Media Strategy Director reports to the Vice President of Communications and the Managing Director, partners with two other communications directors to implement strategic campaigns, coordinates Vera’s consistent presence in high-profile media and targeted local outlets, shapes the Institute’s messaging, and influences public conversation.


Candidates must be excellent communicators and negotiators, expert at media relations, strategic communications campaign architecture and project management, caring mentors, adept in racial equity, and have a high EQ. The Media Strategy Director joins a growing team with collaborative editorial, digital, and media streams. The communications team works closely with all units at Vera.


The ideal Media Strategy Director is a seasoned and enthusiastic leader who will work with the VP of Communications and the Managing Director to develop and execute strategies to advance our issues, test messages, execute campaigns, grow audiences, and elevate Vera’s brand. The Media Strategy Director will help raise the profile of the  Institute, its President, and other thought leaders.

What We Need in You

  • Knowledge and interest in social justice. You don’t have to be an expert in the criminal legal system, but you need to be paying attention and to have worked in some area of social justice communications.
  • Expertise and passion.  You see ahead of the curve about the potential for audience engagement and media relations, love to be on the cutting edge, and to evangelize others around it.
  • A strategic and tactical tilt. You’re an expert in targeting and analyzing audiences, building strategic campaigns, message testing, and media engagement. You set goals, measure the efficacy of your tactics, and adjust accordingly.
  • A proven track record. Your skills range from placing articles, interviews, and profiles in key media outlets to supervising the writing and placement of op-eds to developing backgrounders and supporting materials for campaigns to training and preparing staff for media appearances. You’ll ensure that Vera messengers are prepared for media and public appearances via formal media training and informal prep sessions.
  • A diplomat. You know that creating good product that reflects mission takes negotiation. Cuts need to happen, tears may be shed. You are able to be a shoulder and be a champion — and still cross the finish line on time and shine.
  • A deep commitment to racial equity. In a system built on racism and inequity, we are working to ensure equity both in our workplace and in the world. You incorporate this value and share it with others.
  • A collaborator. Collaboration is a Vera value — we thrive when we learn and build on each other’s ideas, and are open to giving and receiving feedback — in our team and across the institution. This role will play a key function in the communications team to ensure that staff are all working toward the same strategies and goals, and understand and can grow in their roles.
  • An experienced manager. You like leading a team and have demonstrated skills mentoring and managing media staff. You can make tough but fair calls, and look forward to building out, nurturing, and managing a team of communicators using a supportive and collaborative approach.



Additional Qualifications

  • At least 7 - 10 years of progressive media, journalism, or public relations work, including significant experience supervising and managing media relations personnel as a director
  • Scrupulous project management skills, that shape day-to-day tactics that align with bigger goals.
  • A track record of developing and executing innovative and effective strategies for engaging media at the national, regional, and local level
    • Surveying the media landscape for upcoming opportunities and challenges
    • Cultivating, maintaining, and expanding relationships with journalists, bloggers, and other influential media figures who regularly cover criminal justice and immigration issues
    • Ensuring staff are prepared for media and public appearances via formal media training and informal prep sessions
    • Overseeing the development and distribution of press releases and supplementary materials including fact sheets, background briefings, and talking points memos
    • Providing journalists and staff with concise, compelling messages and summaries
  • Experience managing crisis communications
  • Ability to develop and test messaging identifying and deploying tools and software to track quantitative and qualitative metrics and key milestones that demonstrate the performance and effectiveness of media strategies
  • Ability to ensure tight integration of the Institute’s messaging and media strategies
  • Excellent writer and communicator who can adeptly distill research into public facing messages and take storytelling to the next level
  • Strong instincts for translating trends and research findings into concrete communications opportunities and an ability to move quickly and decisively to take advantage of them
  • Lead special projects as needed





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